ESNZ Endurance is running FEI Officials’ courses in February 2019 in Wellington.  On Friday the 8th will be a Level I/II Stewards’ course and on Saturday and Sunday, 9th and 10th, a combined Level I/II Judges and TDs course.

If you are a current FEI Official and last did a course in 2016 (whether Judges/TDs or Stewards), then you’ll need to do these courses (depending on your role) to remain current as we won’t be running another FEI Officials’ course for at least another three/four years.  If you wish to upgrade your FEI status you definitely need to do this course as there won’t be another opportunity for a while.  National Officials may also attend, particularly if they are interested in FEI Officiating, either in NZ and/or overseas.

Officiating, particularly at FEI level, is extremely rewarding and can take you around the world, if you are motivated and show good knowledge of rules and how to apply them.  Officiating is also a great way to meet other officials/OC members and learn from each other and there is also time for socialising once the hard work of the day is done.

For this upcoming course we are lucky enough to have the expertise of Internationally renowned FEI Endurance Course Director, Sharon Du Plessis, of Botswana.  Sharon will be joining the Ground Jury for the Toft Endurance North Island Champs in 2019, so has agreed to stay on for a further week to direct the courses for us.

Having had years of hands-on experience, Sharon has a practised understanding of every aspect of this extraordinary sport.  She has an immeasurable affection for horses which goes back to her teen years.  1999 saw her ‘Endurance beginnings’ as an Endurance rider.  She attended (and passed!) her first FEI Officials course in 2001 where after she was introduced to the Vet Gate – the most important and instructive ground-level training presents itself here.

“I often refer to the vet gate as my ‘office’ as it is here where I often have to ‘endure’ like nowhere else but it is also in the vet gate as an FEI official where I can truly be myself and be my ‘passion-in-action’.”

Only those who have been exposed to and carried out the duties and responsibilities associated with the Vet-Gate have true insight as to the numerous other features of the sport.  Sharon believes her vast experience obtained at this post laid the solid foundation for her accomplishments to date.

Furthermore, having been a Rider, Mother of a teenage rider, Groom, Horse owner, International Chef d’Equipe and organiser of one of the best attended CEI*** competitions in Southern Africa, she has capacity to comprehend the thinking and rationale of riders and horses alike and thus facilitate synergy in this all-important partnership.

Sharon’s motto is “Not only to educate the minds but the hearts” of all stakeholders in our sport – to practise compassion for their loyal and hard-working steeds.

She says “I have the ability to motivate, inspire and encourage others – the sport is extremely demanding physically and mentally – riders respond very well to this courtesy, I am blessed with an empathetic outlook.  In addition to my understanding of human nature, I am organised and structured and believe in operating methodically.  {I implement the 5 ‘P’s…. ‘Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance’…} and I also believe that ‘Bad behaviour brings bad results’.”

Having lived in a 3rd-world country for the most part, Sharon is familiar with, and sensitive to, all walks of life, especially smaller, less ‘privileged’ countries and thus easily adaptable to all competition settings and scenarios.

She aims to serve the Endurance Sport in being determined to refine and enhance existing processes and professionalism, to be admired and respected by the world over, in conjunction with being able to share the attributes and talents with which she is truly and humbly privileged.

Sharon has officiated in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Costa Rica, Chile, Brazil, USA, UK, UAE, Qatar, Japan, Malaysia, Bahrain, France, Portugal, The Netherlands (and is looking forward to adding NZ to the list!)

And has acted as FEI Course Director in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, UAE, Japan, Malaysia, Costa Rica.

She did not apply (to the FEI) as CD before being appointed two years ago, and was surprised when appointed by the FEI but with being a strong believer that “whatever happens, happens for a reason”, she took on the opportunity, made a few adjustments and started accepting invitations to act as CD around the globe.

If you are an existing FEI Endurance Official, or think you have what it takes to become one, you can follow links on this page to learn more about the course dates, venue, cost, etc, and register to attend the courses:

Heidi Bulfin